Chivas USA lost for the first time at home this season, failed to clinch the Western Conference championship and is now looking at a possible winner-take-all match for the title with Houston next week.
But that wasn’t the worst news Sunday for Chivas.
Just before kickoff, the Major League Soccer team announced that forward Ante Razov will miss up to six weeks because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. With the MLS playoffs set to begin in less than two weeks, and the MLS Cup in five weeks, Razov’s chances of returning to the field appear slim.
Chivas is not ruling him out for the season, however, because he will undergo platelet-rich plasma therapy, known as PRP. Chivas defender Jonathan Bornstein underwent a similar treatment earlier this season.
Bornstein suffered a torn knee ligament while playing for the U.S. national team in February. He was expected to miss six to 10 weeks but returned in four. Bornstein credits PRP for the quick turnaround. Razov is expected to receive the PRP treatment this week.
Chivas had its opportunities Sunday without Razov but lost, 2-1, to Colorado in front of an announced crowd of 12,276 at the Home Depot Center. A goal by Orlando Perez tied the score in the 78th minute, but the Rapids scored in the 90th minute to keep themselves in the playoff hunt.
Rather than taking the tie, which would not have clinched the conference title, Chivas gambled late in the game by sending all but two players forward in an attempt to get the win. Chivas got caught and Colorado’s Omar Cummings scored the game winner.
Chivas’ loss snapped a 16-game home unbeaten streak that began on Sept. 9, 2006, and was tied for third-longest in MLS history.
“They are probably going to have to sleep over why you tried to do that or why it didn’t work out, but they are in a position where they can risk it,” said Colorado Coach Fernando Clavijo. “The points to them don’t count, for us it does. He took a chance, but how big of a chance was it? . . . They are already in the playoffs.”
The risk was a big one, actually.
Had Chivas tied the Rapids (9-12-8, 35 points), whom they outshot, 11-4, it would have forced Houston to beat Real Salt Lake tonight to remain alive in the chase for the conference title.
Chivas (15-7-7, 52 points) can still clinch the conference if Houston loses today, but a tie would move the Dynamo (14-8-6, 48) to within three points of Chivas, making the teams’ regular-season finale Saturday at the Home Depot Center a battle for the West title and No. 1 playoff seeding.
Chivas’ defeat also clinched for D.C. United the Supporter’s Shield, an award that goes to the MLS team with the most points in a season.
“From the first moments of the game I had a funny feeling about it,” Chivas Coach Preki said. ". . . We had an incredible amount of opportunities; we just couldn’t put it in.”
Forward Maykel Galindo, who hasn’t scored a goal since getting two against the Galaxy a month ago, said it was obvious the team missed Razov.
“We all know what Ante does as a forward and as a teammate,” said Galindo, who has been battling an abdominal strain. “He always found himself in the right place at the right time. It’s going to be hard.”
Chivas has just one win in its last four games.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan left after the game to join the U.S. national team in Basel, Switzerland, where it will play an international friendly with the Swiss national team on Wednesday. He is scheduled to return Thursday and should be available against Houston.
Midfielder Francisco Mendoza (groin strain) was a late scratch.